Monday, January 31, 2011

You just can't keep it all forever.

The January 17, 2011, NY Times article entitled, “In New Military, Data Overload Can Be Deadly” makes a point I try to make almost every day to some business executive. More information is not necessarily better and at some point the law of diminishing returns applies. If you have so much information, finding the needed nugget or digesting the salient stuff from the crap is near impossible. Information needs to be born, be used and die at some point to make room for more important timely information. In essence information has a life cycle. Problem is many don’t actually believe that most information needs to die at some point. They cling to the misguided notions that storage is cheaper and search tools are more and more powerful. All true, but they both miss the real point. You can’t keep everything because there are all sorts of soft and hard costs that impact the bottom line of business well beyond storage costs per gigabyte. Also, search tools while more capable, are not the panacea because they can’t traverse complex systems and hundreds of file types without challenge no matter what anyone tells you. A soldier is manning a drone in Afghanistan from his cubicle in Arizona. Some innocent citizens die and now the military says that it is because of information overload. SO, keep what you need to and get rid of the crud. Bigger is not always better.

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